Much of my time is spent helping people manage their email more efficiently. But, as I’ve said many times before, the point of this work is not just to help people get their inboxes under control. It is to help them get their heads out of their inboxes and into more important and strategic work.
I reckon managers and leaders need to spend some of this freed-up time engaging and influencing key stakeholders in their network, whether that be their boss, their team, or their peers. Great work gets done with and through other people. Mother Theresa once said, “I can do things you cannot; you can do things I cannot; together, we can do great things.”
But don’t be fooled into thinking that the time you spend in meetings with your key people is true engagement. Or time spent writing emails to them is going to influence or inspire them. Sure, you’re “interacting’” with them, but to truly engage these people, to build actual relationships with them, you need to carve out both the brain space and the time for more informal conversations that really get to the heart of issues and opportunities.
This is a concept I talk to a lot of leadership teams about. Reducing the amount of time spent in formal meetings, or in front of the inbox, and creating the space for more informal discussions is critical for success. Whilst this always resonates with senior leaders, I think it is relevant to all of us. No matter what your role, you will get more of the important work done if you a purposeful about truly engaging the people around you.
So, do you carve out the time and brain space needed to truly engage with others, or are you swamped by meetings and emails?